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Biden names an emergency board tasked with helping resolve disputes between freight rail carriers and their workers.

Farm Press Staff

July 20, 2022

3 Min Read
Port backups GettyImages-1341617364.jpg
PORT CONGESTION RELIEF? Container ships are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as they wait to offload on September 20, 2021 near Los Angeles, California. Amid nationwide record-high demand for imported goods and supply chain issues, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are currently seeing unprecedented congestion. Mario Tamo - Getty Images

A union representing West Coast dockworkers who are in their own negotiations for a new contract has voiced solidarity with rail workers who have been toiling without a contract for more than two years.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Coast Longshore Division announced on July 19 that it stands in solidarity with the Rail Unions and 115,000 workers they represent as they seek what they would consider a fairer contract that reflects the vital work they do nationwide.

“American families needed medical supplies, home office equipment, groceries and other supplies during the pandemic, and railroad workers made those deliveries possible,” said Willie Adams, ILWU International President. “They heroically stayed on the job without a contract or a raise, and it is beyond time for the private railroad companies to reach a fair agreement with the rail workers who delivered the goods – and the profits. The ILWU supports the rail workers’ right to bring home a decent wage and benefits to their families and calls on the employers to reach a fair agreement without further delay.”

Related: Port strike ‘would be devastating’ for ag, economy

Cam Williams, ILWU Coast Committeeman said, “The rail companies have failed America’s farmers who depend on the railroads to move the products they grow in rural areas to population centers and to ports for export. Instead of reaching a fair agreement with the workers who move the cargo, the companies are raking in profits and creating more stress and the fear of disruption for farmers and for all Americans. It’s time for the rail companies to come to the table with a reasonable package that acknowledges the hard work of railroad workers on whom the nation depends every day.” 

Railroad workers, who move everything from Amazon packages to fuel and agricultural products from ports and across the nation, complain they have not received a raise since 2019. They contend the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents railroad employers in negotiations, has refused to offer a comprehensive settlement proposal.

“By refusing to treat their workers with respect and meet their reasonable demands for the past two years, the private rail carriers have shown they care more about profits than about American families, businesses, consumers, and our national economy,” said Bobby Olvera, Jr., ILWU International President. “At a time when workers are leaving their jobs in droves, the private rail employers owe it to our nation to keep our supply chain moving by making sure that rail jobs remain worth showing up to.”

Related: There's an economic train wreck coming

President Joe Biden on July 17 named members of an emergency board tasked with helping resolve disputes between freight rail carriers and their unions, the Reuters news service reports. Biden signed an order on Friday ahead of a deadline to intervene in nationwide U.S. railroad labor talks covering 115,000 workers, Reuters notes. The move averted a strike or lockout in that industry, at least for now.

The ILWU, which represents about 22,000 workers at 29 ports, and about 70 employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association have been in talks since May. The laborers have been working without a contract since July 1, and the two sides have committed to avoid a work stoppage that logistics companies say would devastate agriculture and the U.S. economy.

A lockout of Canadian Pacific employees this year caused the operator to temporarily halt Canadian operations, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Source: International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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